Stories @ TCAT

City of Dickson staff recently volunteered their time and expertise to help students in a new, local college class gain job experience. 

Tennessee College of Applied Technology Dickson began offering a 20-month Building Construction Technology program at the Dickson campus in May. 

The program offers students instruction and training in carpentry, brick laying, electrical wiring, and plumbing. Students who successfully complete that 12-month program will earn a carpentry diploma, with the option to continue another eight months to earn an additional general construction diploma.

Dickson Planning and Zoning Director Jason Pilkinton said the program could help the city as well as other local governments with codes departments facing a shortage in qualified inspectors. 

City staff were inspired enough to after becoming aware of the program earlier this year that they contacted TCAT. 

“They appreciated the call (from city officials) and...we could come up with what would benefit them the most,” Pilkinton said.  

The program’s instructor, Mark Nichols, asked Pilkinton if he would speak to the class.

“I absolutely jumped at the chance to go meet him, the students and learn more about their goals of the class itself,” Pilkinton said. 

Pilkinton talked to the students in early June about building codes, zoning, permits, site inspections, the planning commission, and how the city government works overall. He explained to the class the process for a residential building permit and a commercial building permit. 

On June 17, Pilkinton took class members on a field trip to the under-construction McAlister’s Deli site on Highway 46 South. 

“We walked the site on an actual inspection, and I was able to show them what I went over in class, what we look at and how the project comes together,” Pilkinton said. 

He asked that they take notes while touring the project, which is about 70 percent complete, Pilkinton said. He will return to the class this month to review what was said at the site and answer questions. 

“On the code side, we have a huge shortage in the ‘code world’ with inspectors,” Pilkinton said. “Most are older and getting close to retirement and the young generation is not getting into the Inspection side of construction.” 

Pilkinton said the need is similar to the shortage of skilled workers in welding, concrete, and a variety of trades. 

“As (the city continues) to grow, we will need more people to help ensure these projects are built according to codes and approved plans. It is extremely important,” Pilkinton said. 

“I am super excited to see how (the city’s instruction) helps them in future,” Pilkinton added. 

TCAT Dickson has spent months renovating the roughly 3,900 square foot space that houses the classroom, work shop and forklift bay area. In addition, the college has spent more than $75,000 purchasing new equipment for student use.